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FRESSCA (Filtration for Respiratory Exposure to wildfire Smoke from Swamp Cooler Air) Study

The Filtration for Respiratory Exposure to wildfire Smoke from Swamp Cooler Air (FRESSCA) study aims to reduce wildfire smoke exposures and health risks among agricultural workers and low-income families by designing and field testing an affordable, effective filtration system for swamp coolers.

Wildfires continue to grow in number and severity in the Western U.S. In California's San Joaquin Valley, wildfire smoke often gets trapped in the region where particulate pollution is already high, leading to high concentrations of particulate matter for many weeks. This smoke disproportionately impacts agricultural workers who must spend long periods of time working outdoors.

In the San Joaquin Valley, many low-income families and agricultural worker homes have evaporative or "swamp" coolers, which are often in use during wildfire season and high heat events. Families report that their indoor air becomes unbearably smoky, exposing these workers to dangerous air both at work and at home. There is no existing filtration for swamp coolers.

The FRESSCA Mujeres project is analyzing participant urine for chemicals that indicate exposure to air pollution. Up to 150 urine samples will be analyzed for metabolites of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals, as well as biomarkers of potential breast cancer risk (e.g. oxidative stress and inflammation). Air monitoring of the air pollutants, including PM2.5 will complement and help interpret the biomonitoring results. The project will also evaluate how well residential air filtration reduces overall exposures to these pollutants, under normal conditions and during a wildfire event, in homes that use evaporative or swamp coolers.

As part of the FRESSCA Mujeres project, seven farmworker leaders living in the San Joaquin Valley were recruited with the help of CCEJN to participate in a digital storytelling workshop led by StoryCenter. These videos are based on their personal lived experiences with air pollution and wildfire smoke, using air purifiers and swamp cooler filters to improve indoor air, and other environmental health issues in their communities.

Key Project Information

Project Time Period

2021 - 2024

Project Funder

U.S. EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program. Grant number R840242

Project Partners

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Project Materials

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